Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle


gothic art

The Threads of a Dream

So a little later than planned, here’s the full image of ‘The Threads of a Dream’. For the longest time I couldn’t title this piece but in the end I realised, it’s not so hard, I just had to think about what it means to me. The artist’s real gift is the ability to a visually express ideas, dreams, and emotions. My hope is that in this painting others might find a visual representation of something they’ve been feeling or thinking but are perhaps unable to express. One of the joys of art is that everyone can interpret the meaning differently and take away something different from the experience of seeing it.

I have recently quit one of my ‘day jobs’ to spend more time painting and creating. I think this is the perfect piece to celebrate this exciting time and many possibilities ahead. Prints will be coming soon, email for information.

thread_master to share.jpg

5 Days Left…

5daysAnyone who remembers last year’s piece, or has watched the Halloween YouTube video I released at the start of the month, will know that giving the figure a textured zombie appearance is a big part of creating this character. It is however, an effect that is built up over stages. Today’s photo shows the first step towards the zombie skin is painting the base colours and loose shading.

6 Days Until Halloween

6daysI think you can start to see how it relates to last year’s Halloween painting. The colour scheme is much the same and I’m planning on having the character herself looking like the same person. At this point I hadn’t decided whether all elements would be the same, like the spider web in the hair, but certainly I intend to add some flowers much like last year’s. As you’ll see from the progress photos this week, there’s a lot to work on before I get to these fine details.

The Final Reveal


This painting has been a long journey. I started with just a vague idea that centered around a gas-mask with mouse ears and started painting with just a drawing of the figure. The colour scheme also grew from experimentation. Looking back I think it would have been much quicker if I had started with a finished design however I know that the finished product would have been very different. As it is, I think I’ve created a strong painting which is packed full of lovely little details.

Over the last months of hard work I’ve discussed a lot of issues around this painting and I’ve learned a lot through the process. If you love this piece and want to know more about it’s creation and concept I invite you to look back over the last previous Sundays. I think there might be a few little tweaks left to make, but overall I think I can finally call this piece finished. I’d love to hear what you think about it.I feel that there is an untold story here which makes the piece as intriguing as it is unique.

Designing on the Canvas

Whilst I do a certain amount of planning before I embark on a painting, there are usually several unplanned elements that take shape as an ethereal part of the creation process. I like working in this way because I feel it gives me a closer relationship to what I’m working on. If you know exactly how the finished painting is going to look before you start, I think you take the life out of it. There’s no better feeling than looking at the structure of your composition and feeling where a flower should nestle in or a piece of ribbon should curl and flow. Whilst you can do this on paper before you start, why would you want to rob yourself of the joyous experience of doing it on a large scale where you can feel the shapes you’re creating.

I’ve decided to share a short video below showing me beginning to map out these unplanned elements. This is taking my earlier point to an extreme. I actually found myself a little stuck with this painting and went through a period of weeks when I wasn’t working it due to this sticking point. The question was this – who is my character and what setting would she be in? I didn’t want to leave the background as plain colour. That’s the freedom of creating on the canvas, you feel your way around it. That’s when you tap into a total state of calm concentration. That zen state which I’ve talked a lot about in my Mindfulness Monday posts. So, this is how I create on the canvas. Hopefully when I share the final piece you’ll be able to see why I think this is such an important part of creating artwork:



Painting Progress

Sometimes progress comes in massive waves and sometimes in little ripples. This week’s progress shows me balancing out the colour across the entire canvas as discussed in my last post. Although there is not much progress to really look at this week I felt it was important to keep it in the series to illustrate the timeline. It may not look remarkably different but there was a lot of painting hours invested in the colour work. I’ve also started to add shading and shape to the mask in exploration of its form.


Colour Progression

I’ve chosen this photo to share this week because it brilliantly illustrates the trouble you can get in when you don’t properly prepare your palette. I usually spend a good time at the start of a painting mixing my main colours and create accurate mixes for the colours I’ve imagined in my head. I would usually then do some tests to make sure it’s exactly right. This time I raced into starting the canvas and as you can see I’m having trouble balancing the palette. You can see that all the skin tones to the right of the hand are more yellow in tone, whilst the skin tones on the left are considerably pinker. This is because I refined the colours as I went along and the left side, that I painted later, is actually the colour palette I was aiming for in the beginning. In the area above the gas mask I have laid down some contributing colours to the palette as this helped me to identify what I am physically creating to what I originally wanted.

This mistake cost me time as I had to go back and correct the skin tones so that they all share the same pink hue. This is a good example of where planning a painting thoroughly, before starting out, can actually be a huge advantage!


New Painting

I’ve been quietly working away on a new painting and will be sharing progress pictures every Sunday. Follow me see it unfold.
I’ll be discussing techniques and inspiration along the way with more detailed posts. But for now, I hope you enjoy this sneak peek!


It’s Halloween Tomorrow!!

So I’m very excited to be able to share this special Halloween painting with you all! It’s been tough working to a strict deadline but I’ve had so much fun creating this glam zombie. I’ll release some more detailed pics later but for now please feel free to share this e-card to wish your loved ones a very happy Halloween.

I hope you all have a wonderfully spooky weekend!


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